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Apple bets big on India as first flagship store opens in Mumbai | Technology News

Apple has opened its first flagship retailer in India in a much-anticipated launch that highlights the corporate’s rising aspirations to increase within the nation it additionally hopes to show into a possible manufacturing hub.

The corporate’s CEO Tim Cook dinner on Tuesday posed for pictures with practically 200 Apple followers who had lined up outdoors the sprawling 2,600-square-metre (28,000-square-foot) retailer situated within the Reliance-owned Jio World Drive mall in India’s monetary capital, Mumbai, its design impressed by the enduring black-and-yellow cabs distinctive to town.

A second retailer will open on Thursday within the nationwide capital, New Delhi.

“India has such a good looking tradition and an unimaginable vitality, and we’re excited to construct on our long-standing historical past,” Cook dinner stated in an announcement earlier.

India Apple store
Apple CEO Tim Cook dinner, left, waves throughout the opening of the shop in Mumbai [Punit Paranjpe/AFP]

The tech big has been working in India for greater than 25 years, promoting its product via authorised retailers and the web site it launched a number of years in the past. However regulatory hurdles and the pandemic delayed its plans to open a flagship retailer.

“The vibe right here is simply completely different,” stated 23-year-old Aan Shah, who travelled from Ahmedabad in neighbouring Gujarat state to attend the launch. “It’s not like shopping for from some regular retailer. There’s simply no comparability. It’s so thrilling.”

His love for Apple has earlier taken him to retailer openings in New York and Boston, the place he as soon as acquired an opportunity to fulfill Cook dinner.

The shop was opened for bloggers and tech analysts at a non-public occasion on Monday, whereas many Indian movie and tv celebrities have been seen assembly Cook dinner that night time.

India Apple store
A person holding a Macintosh SE pc queues with others outdoors the shop [Punit Paranjpe/AFP]

The brand new shops are a transparent sign of the corporate’s commitment to invest in India, the second-largest smartphone market on this planet the place iPhone gross sales have been ticking up steadily, stated Jayanth Kolla, analyst at Convergence Catalyst, a tech consultancy.

The shops present “how a lot India issues to the current and the way forward for the corporate,” he added.

For the Cupertino, California-based firm, India’s sheer measurement makes the market particularly encouraging.

About 600 million of India’s 1.4 billion individuals have smartphones, “which implies the market continues to be under-penetrated and the expansion prospect is large”, stated Neil Shah, vp of analysis at expertise market analysis agency Counterpoint Analysis.

Between 2020 and 2022, the Silicon Valley firm has gained some floor within the smartphone market within the nation, going from nearly 2 p.c to capturing 6 p.c, based on Counterpoint information.

Nonetheless, the iPhone’s hefty price ticket places it out of attain for almost all of Indians.

As an alternative, iPhone gross sales within the nation have thrived among the many sliver of the higher center class and wealthy Indians with disposable incomes, a section of consumers that Shah says is rising.

India Apple store
Apple is pushing to make India an even bigger manufacturing base [Punit Paranjpe/AFP]

Based on Counterpoint information, Apple has captured 65 p.c of the “premium” smartphone market, the place costs vary up from 30,000 rupees ($360).

In September, Apple introduced it could begin making its iPhone 14 in India. The information was hailed as a win for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s authorities, which has pushed for ramping up native manufacturing ever since he got here to energy in 2014.

Apple first started manufacturing in India in 2017 with its iPhone SE and has since continued to assemble a number of iPhone fashions within the nation.

Most of Apple’s smartphones and tablets are assembled by contractors with factories in China, however the firm began taking a look at probably moving some production to Southeast Asia or different locations after repeated shutdowns to battle COVID-19 disrupted its world move of merchandise.

“Large corporations acquired a jolt, they realised they wanted a backup technique outdoors of China – they couldn’t threat one other lockdown or any geopolitical rift affecting their enterprise,” stated analyst Kolla.

Presently, India makes near 13 million iPhones yearly, up from lower than 5 million three years in the past, based on Counterpoint Analysis. That is about 6 p.c of iPhones made globally – and solely a small slice compared to China, which nonetheless produces about 90 p.c of them.

As Apple pushes to make India an even bigger manufacturing base, a few of its merchandise, together with iPhones, are being assembled within the nation by Taiwanese contract electronics producers Foxconn and Wistron Corp. It additionally plans to assemble iPads and AirPods in India.

Final week, India’s Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal stated the federal government was in common contact with Apple to help their enterprise right here and that the corporate had plans to have 25 p.c of their world manufacturing come out of India within the subsequent 5 years.

The problem for Apple, based on Shah of Counterpoint, is that the uncooked supplies are nonetheless coming from outdoors India so the tech firm might want to both discover a native provider or convey their suppliers, based mostly in nations like China, Japan and Taiwan, nearer to drive up manufacturing.

Nonetheless, he’s optimistic this goal may very well be met, particularly with labour prices being decrease in India and the federal government wooing corporations with enticing subsidies to spice up native manufacturing.

“For Apple, the whole lot is about timing. They don’t enter a market with full move till they really feel assured about their prospects. They’ll see the chance right here right now – it’s a win-win state of affairs,” Shah stated.

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